Barriers to Working Together

Objectives

  • To analyze coping strategies used by self and peers
  • To address barriers to working together toward common goals

Materials

  • Flip chart paper/whiteboard/chalkboard
  • Markers/dry erase markers/chalk
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • “Get Strategies Scenario” (1 per every 4 participants)

Prepare Before

Write the “Get Strategies” (see Summarize) on the flip chart paper/whiteboard/chalkboard.


Warm Up

Participants should journal about the following prompts:

  • What is a crisis?
  • What are the crises that are happening in San Francisco every day?

Have a few people share their responses.

Experience

There are many ways that people cope with social conditions and oppression. We can think of these as the “Get Strategies.” Break your full group into seven teams. Each team will be given a different coping strategy. Each team should come up with a 2-4 minute role play that demonstrates this strategy to the rest of the group.

Reflect

After each role play, have the role players read the strategy they used. Facilitate a discussion using the following reflection questions:

  • What did you notice?
  • How did people act in this situation?
  • If someone decides they are going to use this strategy, what does that look like?
  • How do they relate to people “above” them? “Below” them? Next to them (like family members, friends, peers)?
  • What are they trying to achieve?
  • What does the day-to-day life of this person look like? How do they spend their time?
  • What are the consequences of using this strategy?

Summarize

As a full group, read through all the “Get Strategies”:

1. Get Ahead

We all start out as children doing what our parents and teachers tell us to. We want to work hard, stay in school, and succeed. We want to GET AHEAD. However, we soon learn that getting ahead in the present structure often means stepping on other people to move up. It can mean isolation, alienation, adopting mean-spirited values, and competing with rather than cooperating with others. Getting ahead can come with huge costs to ourselves and to those around us.

2. Get By

Many of us give up trying to get ahead and just GET BY. We adopt an attitude of “just tell me what to do, and I’ll do the minimum.” We are just trying to get to the end of class, to the weekend, to summer vacation, or retirement.

3. Get Over

Some of us are committed to getting ahead but know we don’t have the resources or opportunity to do it by legitimate means so we turn to illegitimate ones. We lie, cheat, or turn to illegal activities, trying to GET OVER on the system without getting caught.

4. Get Around

Some of us don’t try to confront the obstacles in our way but try to GET AROUND them by manipulation, seduction, or playing the system or other people within it with whatever skills, connections, or resources we can muster for ourselves.

5. Get Out

Some of us become so discouraged by the inequality and moral bankruptcy of the current system that we just want to GET OUT. We drop out of our families, out of school, out of the community life, or we turn to alcohol, drugs, video games, or other mindless activities. We drop out emotionally.

6. Get Back

Some of us are angry at those we perceive to be in the way of getting ahead. We pick up a weapon (words, fists, guns) to attack and try to GET BACK at those in our way. In getting back we often develop hate towards other groups we have been trained to scapegoat for our problems, such as our partners, people of color, lesbians, gays, bisexual people, transgender people, or recent immigrant groups.

7. Get Together

This is the ONLY strategy that really helps us, our families, and our communities move forward in creating change. People have always made gains by GETTING TOGETHER through organized struggles, such as the abolition movement, the movement for women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, the disability rights movement, the lesbian and gay liberation movement, and thousands of others worldwide throughout history.

Once you have gone over all the “Get Strategies,” facilitate a discussion on the following prompts:

  • What prevents us from Getting Together?
  • What are the challenges we as a community may face once we come together?
  • What are some beautiful things we can create once we come together?

Demonstrate

Break the full group into teams of 4 or 5. Give each team a “Get Strategies Scenario” worksheet and have them answer the questions. After 10-15 minutes, bring teams back to the full group and review their answers. Facilitate a discussion on how each “Get Strategy” plays out in your community. As a full group, create a piece of art that shows Getting Together! This can be a poem, song, painting, sculpture, mural, or anything that feels relevant.